Where Did All the Water Go? Water Audit for Your Home

Thinking back on your morning routine as you sit at your office desk: How much water did you use this morning?

The average American citizen uses roughly 176 gallons of water per day! Compared to the average amount of water used by an entire family in one of Africa’s many nations of only 5 gallons per day, it starts to make you wonder why we use so much.  In the United States, about 99.9% of all citizens have access to a clean water source and for the most part an unlimited supply.

As a result the US tops the charts for global water usage per individual per day!

Courtesy of 360data.org

There are steps that we can take as individuals to decrease the amount of water we use on a daily and monthly basis. Looking at things on completely selfish level, decreasing your water usage can have a significant impact on your water bill.  According to the Maryland Department of the Environment, “it is possible to cut your water usage by as much as 30 percent by implementing simple conservation measures and without drastically modifying your lifestyle.”

So how can you determine how much water you use on a daily, monthly, or yearly basis.  The best way is to complete an in house water audit.  For some this could be a very quick and easy process, for others it may take a little more work! This water audit template is brought to you by the Maryland Department of the Environment.

HOW DO I CALCULATE WATER USAGE IN MY HOME?  It is important to realize that water use throughout the year often varies with the season.    Most people use more water in the warmer months for gardening, washing cars, and other outdoor uses.  If you conduct your water audit in the winter or fall, you should still consider the additional water you use in the summer months.  The American Water Works Association (AWWA) estimates that the average indoor water use per person is 94 gallons of water per day; this does not take into account outdoor water use (watering lawns, washing cars).

If you obtain water from a community water system, you probably receive a water bill that tells you how much water you use.  Many water utilities provide customers with bills that contain information regarding the amount of water consumed and average daily consumption during the billing period.  If the average daily consumption is not provided,
you can calculate it by dividing the total amount of water used by the number of days in the billing period.  If your water bill does not provide water consumption data, then you can read your water meter to obtain this information.  Water meters measure the total amount of water used in your home and are usually located at the property line or on the house.  To obtain your water use over the course of a 24-hour day, read your meter at the same time on two consecutive days.  You may want to measure water use for several days and then calculate a daily average.

For those people who do not have a water bill or access to their meter you can estimate water use by an in home water audit. It will be important to measure all water use, indoor and outdoor, to accurately estimate the quantity of water used.  To determine how much you consume water in your home it is necessary to measure water flow from each fixture in your house:
• To calculate flow for faucets (indoor and outdoor) and showerheads, turn faucet to the
normal flow rate that you use, and hold a container under the tap for 10 seconds and measure the quantity of water in the container.  Multiply the measured quantity of water by 6 to calculate the gallons per minutes (gpm).
• To calculate flow for toilets, turn off the water supply to the toilet, mark the water line on the inside of the tank, flush, and then fill tank with water from tap.  Measure the volume of water that is required to fill water back up to the water line mark on the tank and record this number.  Turn water on to the toilet to resume normal use.
•  If your appliances or fixtures are relatively new, you may be able to obtain the flow rate from the manufacturer’s specifications.  Otherwise, use the following averages:  o Washing machine – 41 gal per use o Dishwashing machine – 9 gal per use

Next, measure how many times per day or how many minutes each day you use each fixture or appliance.  Multiply the water flow per fixture by the minutes per day the fixture is used.  Multiply the flow average for each appliance by the number of times the appliance is used each week.  Don’t forget to include the amount of time you use outdoor faucets each day. When I completed this audit myself, I found my roommate and my average water usage for a week including the times we ran the dishwasher and the loads of laundry we did to get a more accurate daily average over the week.                                 Check out the Full Audit Instructions Here

After completing the audit in my own apartment I identified that my roommate and I use an average of 96.64 gallons/day. Although way below the national average this was still shocking to me. I compared it to trying to fit 193 gallon jugs of water into my apartment! How many gallons do you use a day? Complete your own water audit and fill out the poll below!

 

 

 

 

 

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About bbanville12

I am a Youth Program Director at Excel Youth Zone based in San Diego, CA. We work with students and educators to implement service-learning projects in after-school and in-school programming. I love social justice of all kinds and I am excited to start a social justice minded blog at Wordpress. Follow me each month as a dive into a new social topic educating not only myself but the general public on ways they can contribute to these critical social issues!
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One Response to Where Did All the Water Go? Water Audit for Your Home

  1. Pingback: Monthly Challenge: Making Water Accessible | Rooted Change

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